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Furthermore, the term “provider” is deliberately and strikingly generic, designating no specific role or type or level of expertise.Each medical professional — doctor, nurse, physical therapist, social worker, and more — has specialized training and skills that are not recognized by the all-purpose term “provider,” which carries no resonance of professionalism.Recasting their roles as those of providers who merely implement prefabricated practices diminishes their professionalism.
These guidelines for care are touted as strictly scientific and objective.
The words we use to explain our roles are powerful. This change in the language of medicine has important and deleterious consequences.
The relationships between doctors, nurses, or any other medical professionals and the patients they care for are now cast primarily in terms of a commercial transaction.
For centuries, doctors who were mercenary were publicly and appropriately castigated, the subjects of caustic characterization in plays by Moliere and stories by Turgenev. Should we now be celebrating the doctor whose practice, like a successful business, maximizes profits from “customers”?
Beyond introducing new words, the movement toward industrializing and standardizing all of medicine (rather than just safety and emergency protocols) has caused certain terms that were critical to our medical education to all but disappear.“Provider” also signals that care is fundamentally a prepackaged commodity on a shelf that is “provided” to the “consumer,” rather than something personalized and dynamic, crafted by skilled professionals and tailored to the individual patient.